Iraq: ten years on

Ten years ago tomorrow the US along with its Coalition partners invaded Iraq to topple the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The question of whether or not the war was worth the colossal loss of human life continues to divide opinion.

Ten years ago tomorrow the US along with its Coalition partners invaded Iraq to topple the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

After a fairly hasty disposal of the Iraqi army and the taking of Baghdad, President George W Bush famously declared “mission accomplished” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Since then, however, hundreds of thousands have died in Iraq, and while elections have taken place and Saddam’s Hussein and his crime family have been deposed, for ordinary Iraqis life remains a struggle – a 2011 poll by Zogby found that 42 per cent of Iraqis felt they were worse off in the fledgling democracy than they had been under Saddam.

The question of whether or not the war was worth the colossal loss of human life continues to divide opinion in the US, too.

58 per cent of Republicans say Iraqis are “better off” compared with just a quarter (24 per cent) of Democrats. Almost half (44 per cent) of all Americans either are “not sure” or say things are “the same” as before the invasion.


Iraq statistics

Source: Costs of war

For those who backed the war, justification for the invasion may be found in the fact that Iraq is now a – albeit flawed – democracy.

The idea that there was ever a straightforward alternative to overthrowing Saddam Hussein by force was always rather simplistic too, and relied upon the continued presence of a no-fly-zone in the north of the country (also a form of intervention), as well as on crippling sanctions which, according to some estimates, caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children.

However, one of the lessons of Iraq, the French writer Pascal Bruckner says in his book The Tyranny of Guilt, is that “People who hope to see local versions of the Parliament in Westminster established in Kabul, Riyadh, Algiers, and Moscow will have to be patient and learn to accept necessity.”


The point missed by those who follow Tony Blair around demanding that he be tried for war crimes, however, is that whether one supported the war in Iraq or not one was still wrong. There was no easy answer to the question of how to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and were he seated in Baghdad today the world would still face the question of how to prize him from power before the country degenerated into bankruptcy and massacre.

Would another Syria really be an improvement on today’s Iraq?

What do you think? Ten years on, was the decision to invade Iraq the correct one?

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21 Responses to “Iraq: ten years on”

  1. Old Albion

    Blair is a lying criminal with blood on his hands. LFF support him because he’s a Lefty…..natch.
    If Iraq is now a democracy………….democracy is fucked.

  2. Mark Raymond

    Bring the troops home. How many more lives and how much more money need to be wasted on the British state’s imperialist misadventures here, there and everywhere? HM Forces should be used to defend the United Kingdom, not to poke HM Government’s nose in where it isn’t wanted or needed.

  3. Duncan McFarlane

    You talk, like Blair, as if sanctions could not have been lifted without war and as if this justifies the war. That’s not true. Sanctions could have been lifted at any time without war. After 1991 there was no WMD threat from Iraq and no threat of more massacres of or use of WMD on Iraqis by Saddam’s regime. During the 1991 war he still had chemical warheads he could have fitted to his scud missiles but didn’t use any of them, showing he was not willing to take the risk of what the US might do if he did use them. He had only been able to commit genocide against the Kurds in the 1980s because every major and middling power including the US, the UK, the Soviet Union, France and China, was arming, funding and supporting him against Iran – before and after Halabja. The massacre of Shia rebels and their families in the South in 1991 happened only because Bush senior called on Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam, giving them the impression Coalition forces would aid them, before ordering his troops not to do anything to stop the massacre in the South. The main reasons the US didnt want sanctions raised while Saddam was in power were that he had given oil contracts to French, Chinese and Russian companies but not the major US or UK oil firms ; and that the US would have been embarrassed by Saddam’s survival in power, even if it was only temporary.

  4. Newsbot9

    Okay, so you think democracy is fucked. Thanks for supporting LB’s view.

  5. Newsbot9

    And that’s the UKIP party line, if you like it or not.

    Leave the people who the British screwed over with imperialism to rot, don’t raise a hand against dictators….

  6. Newsbot9

    Incorrect. over 500 chemical munitions, WMD per the Chemical Weapons Convention, have been recovered – and that’s only what’s been declassified so far.

  7. henrytinsley

    Headline in today’s Financial Times says it all – ‘Contractors reap $138 billion from Iraq War’. The biggest beneficiary was KBR, whose former CEO was Dick Cheney.

  8. henrytinsley

    I seem to remember the Conservatives were rather keen about invading Iraq.

  9. Eddy Boyband

    They fell for labours sexed up evidence.

  10. Eddy Boyband

    Why dont you go and help them then ?

  11. Newsbot9

    I happen not to hate the British as the UKIP do.

  12. Duncan McFarlane

    What’s your source? How old are these munitions? And why couldn’t the UN inspectors have been allowed to destroy them – they were making good progress in destroying Saddam’s last WMD reserves and in destroying missiles ranged over 150km, as Hans Blix told the UN Security Council in two briefings shortly before Bush invaded. The Iraq Survey Group appointed by Bush after the invasion found Blix was right. And by the way how many chemical munitions did Saddam’s forces use in the 1991 Gulf war or during the 2003 invasion or at any time in between? None. Not one. Because Saddam could only get off with using them while the big powers were all backing him against Iran – and he knew it.

  13. Duncan McFarlane

    Like Blair they’d support any US led war irrespective of the evidence. And you’re telling us MPs and shadow cabinet members were fooled by cheap propaganda that didn’t even fool ordinary members of the public? There were 139 Labour MPs who voted against war on Iraq – including pretty much the whole left wing of the parliamentary party. Only 15 Conservatives voted against it and Cameron, Osborne and IDs weren’t among them. It was a right wing pro-US British nationalist war supported by Tories and Blairites.

  14. Duncan McFarlane

    I doubt having your nails ripped out with pliers or being shot in the back of the head feels that much better when it’s the US trained forces of a democratic governments doing it rather than Saddam’s (oh wait many of them are Saddam’s former torturers) – google Iraqi Police Commandos and check Amnesty’s annual reports on Iraq from 2010 to present

  15. Newsbot9

    The fact is, they were found. And that’s really not true, it depends on the chemical.

  16. Newsbot9

    So you think that because the US in particular later committed crimes that it’s fine to back dictators?

  17. Eddy Boyband

    Wriggle all you like, it was labour who took this country to war on dodgy evidence, as well as not supplying the proper kit for the solders.

  18. Duncan McFarlane

    I’m not wriggling – it was the Labour party leadership, the majority if it’s MPs and the vast majority of Conservative MPs. There were ten times as many Labour MPs who voted against the war than Conservatives who did though.

  19. Duncan McFarlane

    The fact is? Based on what source? Who says? You can’t just make a claim without any source at all and expect anyone to believe it. It does depend on the chemical – i said many, not all. How many did Saddam use in the 1991 war? And how many in the 2003 war? None. So whether he had them or not he wasn’t going to use them on the US or its allies for fear of the consequences – and with US and British jets patrolling the Northern and Southern No fly zone he couldn’t use them unless they let him (as they did with the Marsh Arabs in the 90s). All that was over years before the invasion though.

  20. Duncan McFarlane

    No – i think it’s not an improvement on a dictator torturing and murdering people to have an elected government’s forces and US forces torturing and killing civilians just like he did. And i think it’s not ok to go to war unless the alternative is a lot more people being killed than if you don’t go to war – which was not the case in 2003 , as Saddam’s massacres were his genocide against the Kurds in the 1980s (while the US and British governments continued to arm him – and after Halabja continued to fund him and support him), his massacre of the Shia in 1991 (caused by Bush senior calling on them to rise up and overthrow Saddam giving the impression US forces would help them if they did, then telling his forces not to get involved even when they begged to be allowed to) and the genocide of the Marsh Arabs in the 1990s while the US and British air forces were once again ordered not to stop it as they patrolled overhead in the Southern No Fly zone. All were over by the end of the 1990s, so war was bound to cost far, far more lives than it saved – even if Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld gave a damn about saving a single life, which they didn’t – Cheney and Rumsfeld organised funding and training the death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s and reproduced Iraqi versions like the Iraqi Police Commandos in Iraq , as well as allowing US forces to fire on ambulances and civilians in Coalition assaults like the ones on Falluja and Samarra – with western aid workers and Iraqi civilians, ambulance crews and doctors reporting they were fired on so many times that US forces must have been targeting them.

  21. Duncan McFarlane

    And by the way if the US are overthrowing dictators because of a moral objection to them whey are the British and US and French governments still arming, training and supporting the Saudi and Bahraini and Yemeni dictatorships as they kill protesters? And why did they back Mubarak to the end and then his Vice President Suleiman the torturer?

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